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Comparing Homelessness Research in the US and Britain


  • Suzanne Fitzpatrick
  • Julie Christian


The US and Britain have the most extensive research literatures on homelessness in the English-speaking world, but they take markedly different approaches to scientific investigation of this topic. In this paper, we present a comparative evaluation of these two highly developed homelessness research traditions, drawing out methodological, conceptual and theoretical lessons for researchers in both countries, which we hope will also have a wider resonance for homelessness scholars across Europe and elsewhere in the economically developed world. The paper suggests that divergent explanations of homelessness in the US and Britain may reflect 'real' differences in the nature of homelessness in the two countries, rooted in their contrasting social and economic contexts, but argues that the incommensurability of the data currently generated by US and British researchers means that, at present, it is not possible to test this hypothesis. The paper advocates the development of 'purposeful' comparative research on homelessness in order to facilitate cross-national learning at both the policy and theoretical levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Suzanne Fitzpatrick & Julie Christian, 2006. "Comparing Homelessness Research in the US and Britain," International Journal of Housing Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(3), pages 313-333.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:intjhp:v:6:y:2006:i:3:p:313-333
    DOI: 10.1080/14616710600973151

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    Cited by:

    1. Cobb-Clark, Deborah A. & Herault, Nicolas & Scutella, Rosanna & Tseng, Yi-Ping, 2016. "A journey home: What drives how long people are homeless?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 57-72.
    2. repec:gam:jsoctx:v:8:y:2018:i:1:p:16-:d:134709 is not listed on IDEAS


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